This list is not exhaustive: if you are unsure about the correct spelling for a term not listed here, please contact the Style Guide.
For scientific terms or terms specific to an academic discipline, please exercise judgment, taking guidance from academic colleagues where possible.
Be sure to retain consistency throughout a piece of writing.
British and US spelling
British spelling should be used when writing on behalf of the College, unless quoting a piece of text originally written using US spelling. Some examples of common differences are listed here:
- Prefer-ise/-yse/-isation to -ize/-yze/-ization. For example: organisation; rationalise; contextualise.
- Prefer -our to -or. For example: colour; armour.
- Prefer -re to -er. For example: centre; metre.
- Prefer -lling to ling; -lled to -led; and -ller to -ler. For example: travelling, travelled and traveller; modelling, modelled and modeller.
- Foreign plural forms should be used where still in common use. Some examples are listed here:
Commonly misspelled words
- accommodate, accommodation
- commemorate, commemoration
- dependant (noun)/dependent (adjective)
- ensure (make certain), insure (against risks)
- farther (distance), further (additional)
- focuses, focused, focusing
- foetus, foetal
- fulfil, fulfilling
- install, instalment, installation
- practice (noun)/ practise (verb)
- program (only in software context, otherwise programme)
- stationary (not moving) and stationery (pens and paper)
Style preferences: education terms
- alumnus, alumni (note that we do not use the terms alumna or alumnae to refer to female students)
- degree (not Degree)
- Diploma of the Imperial College
- First (not ‘1st’)
- 2:1, 2:2, Third
- Honours (not ‘honours’)
- Joint Honours
- Master’s (not ‘Masters’ or ‘masters’)
- Bachelor’s (not ‘bachelors’ or ‘bachelor’s’)